Tuesday, June 28, 2016

A London Stopover– On Airline Miles and Hotel Points

When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life;
for there is in London all that life can afford.
                                -- Samuel Johnson

While song writers seem beguiled about springtime in Paris, we found London to be equally as enchanting. It didn’t take long for this jolly ol’ capital city with a population of more than 8.5 million to wrap us in its charms during our brief visit in May.

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Those London phone booths are icons of the city
Because we were returning to the States from Greece earlier than originally planned to deal The Scout’s, medical matter, he was tasked with finding us a reasonable and affordable routing for this rather spur-of-the-moment trip. 

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Speaking of icons, there are those double-decker buses as well. . .
The best option he found was flying via London, using some of our accumulated airline miles. (There are no direct flights between Athens and Seattle, so you need to stop somewhere. Sometimes depending on flight connections the layover could be a matter of hours and other times, overnight at least).

We purchased tickets on Aegean Airlines for our trip from Athens to London. We then used Alaska Airlines miles,a regional U.S. carrier, to fly on one of its partners, British Airlines.

Traveler’s Tip: We booked two one-way tickets London – Seattle, in Premium Economy, that rather comfortable section that isn’t quite Business Class but certainly isn’t Economy Class. The price 42,500 air miles PLUS $432US a seat in taxes and fees: (85,000 miles + $864US) AND THEN an additional $169US to select the seats we wanted to sit in – two seat side by the windows (and assure ourselves we weren’t stuck in the middle of a center row).

While all those extra $$$ were equivalent to what we would have paid for a regular economy class seat it does make one wonder about using airline miles for ‘free’ travel.

That London Stopover

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London, London, London
It occurred to us that we could make lemonade out of the lemon he’d been handed by using some of our horded hotel points to pay for a stay at the Marriott’s Park Lane Hotel. It’s located across the street from Hyde Park,in the rather posh and privileged Mayfair District.

Traveler’s Tip:  Even using discount sites, the price of a room here hovers at $500 a night, plus another $100 per night in taxes and fees.  We paid nothing more for our room than 180,000 points,(which we’ve earned on previous Marriott stays and credit card spending).

Because we have stayed in Marriott hotels enough nights to qualify for their ‘elite’ level benefits, we had access to the hotel’s Executive Lounge were we ate breakfast daily, and drank happy hour wine and an afternoon espresso drink each day – all complimentary which further saved us a great deal of money. A British pound was at the time equivalent to $1.46US.

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Marriott Park Lane - London
After arriving at Heathrow Airport and caught the Heathrow Express train to Paddington Station, 32 kilometers, or about 20 miles away. Paddington has been the London terminus of the Great Western Railway and its successors since 1838. The high speed airport ‘shuttle’ trains leave the depart every 15 minutes. More than 16,000 passengers use the train daily.

Catching the train was a snap as they’ve simplified that process since the last time we’d visited London. A young woman was standing just outside baggage claim selling train tickets and we had only to follow signs posted in the airport to find the train platform.  Two round-trip train tickets: $105US

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Heathrow Express at Paddington Station
From Paddington it was a short taxi ride to the hotel. Once settled in to our room, we set off to explore.  We walked 33.5 miles in the 4.5 days we were there and next week, we’ll show you some of our routes through London’s neighborhoods.

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A London Park
Before signing off this week, we want to thank all of you who wrote emails or comments on last week’s post about The Scout’s trip through the medical worlds of Greece and the U.S.  Your kind wishes and ‘sighs of relief’ were most welcome.

Those ‘medical moments’ whether experienced at home or while traveling do make travel experiences just a bit more precious.  Booking a one-way trip instead of round-trip because you don’t know when you will be able to return was a good reminder to us to keep traveling as far and wide as we can – while we can! In other words:

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Hope to see you all back here next week! Until then safe and healthy travels to you and yours~

Linking up:

Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday – 
Photo Friday
Weekend Travel Inspiration

40 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. London is always beautiful but it becomes stunning under blue skies and sunshine like we had there!

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  2. Nice shots. I do like London!

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  3. What a beautiful interlude for your trip. :-)

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    1. It may not have been what the doctor ordered, but it was just what we needed!

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  4. Looks like you hit a perfect spell of weather! Blue skies in London are rare. Looking forward to more :-)

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    1. It was perfect weather - 80-degrees Farenheit! I'll show you just how nice it was in next week's post.

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  5. Having just heard of a friends death from a heart attack last week in his late 50s I agree with "don't postpone the joy". Sometimes these little "things" come along just to remind us. There is so much to do and places to explore, we just should get out and do it. We were in London 10 years ago and there are certainly lots of places to visit and lots of kilometers to walk. Happy travels and good health!

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    1. Jill, you are the second of our friends this week to tell us of a friend's death from heart attack in his late 50's. It is a reminder that none of these travel plans are cast in stone, and to carpe diem every morning! While I enjoy my 'home life' I am feeling a bit driven to get out and experience as much as I can while I can. Have a great week!

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  6. OOO, those red phone booths and the double-decker buses make my heart skip a beat...
    You both are in my daily prayers.....xoxo

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    1. Oh, thank you BJ and as I told you in the email, those prayers worked. All is well with us (knock on wood!) and we are busy planning future adventures. xoxoxo

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  7. Oh, sorry to hear about The Scout's medical issues, hope they're now resolved. I had a medical emergency while I was on my Jamaica sojourn. Thankfully, I didn't have to get on a plane to have it resolved.
    My, what a difference in the exchange rate at the moment!
    I also took the Heathrow Express to Paddington on one of my trips to London. Very convenient. I took the regular train from south London to the airport the last time though. Much cheaper but I'd still take the Heathrow Express after a transatlantic flight.

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    1. They are resolved: surgery and a night in Hotel Hospital ;-)as we called it, took care of 'the lump'! I love taking trains if even for a short distance like going from Heathrow into the city, so it really doesn't matter if it is slow or fast unless I have a flight to catch. Thanks for the comment, I always look forward to hearing from you! xo

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  8. Nice! I like stopovers like this. I have been to London only once. It was rainy and cold (even though it was summer). I would like to visit again since certain things have changed since I visited many years ago.

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    1. Stopovers can be such fun if you give yourself a few days at a place to really enjoy it. We often do the late night arrival, sleep for a few hours at an airport hotel then early morning flight to our destination and it always seems like such a 'wasted' stop because we didn't get to see or do anything. I like this kind better!

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  9. I'm looking forward to seeing your walks around London and some photos too. It is a very long time since we've been there, but I still remember how it felt to be there.

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    1. Oh Jan, it had been a few years since we'd been to London and we are still commenting on how much we enjoyed this stay - of course, having blue sky and temps in the 80F range certainly brightened and enhanced our experience. More to come, stay tuned!

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  10. I hear "London Calling" and can't wait until (big gulp) we take our credit cards out and decide to visit. Luckily round trip airfares from Portugal to London are ridiculously cheap and, as the pound is plummeting due to Brexit, this might be the best time to visit for us budget conscious travelers in years! Maybe we can luck out with some blue sky too... :) Thanks for your tips - I'm going to check our accumulated credit card points next ... Anita

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    1. We hear you loud and clear. While I am sorry for all the negative fallout from Brexit, it certainly does make it attractive to visit London. We had found a great airfare on British Air from Kalamata to London for $89US and kept waiting for the US doctors to give us a date for the scans; they didn't do that until after that same flight went up to over $600 a person. Talk about sticker shock! We drove to Athens and paid $500 for both of us.

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  11. A smart way to travel! I haven't optimized my possibilities with air miles etc. yet. There are not that much opportunities for Europeans as Americans with credit cards etc. too choose from and we don't fly that much. #TPThursday

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    1. We are envious of the ease of travel in Europe with the ability to drive between countries or take a train and not be dependent on airlines. Thanks much for the comment!

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  12. London is beautiful, culturally rich and...EXPENSIVE! You are very savvy travellers; kudos to you and the Scout for being so resourceful. When we were there, we stayed with a friend in West Sussex, and took the train in to explore the city and its landmarks, back in 2005. The Globe Theatre, Madame Tussaud's, Portobello Market, and Jamie Oliver's 15 were some place that we visited, all very memorable!

    Happy 4th, tomorrow!

    xo
    Poppy

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    1. London is expensive - no doubt about that, Poppy and even with Brexit causing a drop in the Pound I doubt if it will ever be thought of as a bargain vacation spot. We were glad to have those air miles and hotel points. We didn't hit the tourist spots this time, just did an aimless amble through the city. Hugs to you, Jackie xo

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  13. Jackie, I never think of booking one ways...I've got to get with the program!

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    1. We usually wouldn't book just one way, but it was such a gamble to book a round trip not knowing when or if (as sad as that sounds) we'd be returning. It did come in as a very handy option.

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  14. I love being able to use points for hotel stays.... always such a great experience! Booking one way has worked so much better for us too - our flights to Vancouver this month were done that way and we saved so much - booked on 2 different airlines to get the best rates!

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    1. There is something nice about being able to mix and match to get the best airfares and times, isn't there? Nice to see a comment from you - hope you'll be back again often!

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  15. Hello, London is a fun city to visit. Seems very expensive since my visit in 1985. It is great to have the travel miles and the hotel credits. Enjoy your day and the new week ahead!

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    1. When we were there the Pound was equal to $1.41US so it did make for expensive glasses of wines and coffees and meals. Have a great week yourself, Eileen!

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  16. I love using points for air trips but I must admit we don't have any hotel points. We seem to stay in small boutique hotels that aren't on the program. When you can say at a room with a $500 rate + taxes it is certainly worth looking into. Hope everything is ok with your husband. We never know what is around the corner.

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    1. We love those boutique hotels as well, Jenny. And thanks for the mention of Joel - his lump was surgically removed and the tests show it and everything around it were benign (YaY!!) You are right about not knowing what the future might bring!

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  17. I love London and you're right, it can be very expensive. You were lucky you had so many points for the Marriott, but 180,000?!?! Wow, that was a lot for a night! Loved the Heathrow Express too. London's one of the great cities where one keeps returning! As for me, I collect my Aeroplan points for business class flights. I have rarely used them on hotels, but might start investigating as it might be worth it.

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    1. Oh Janice, we got five nights for 180,000 points, not just one. ;-) We do save our airline miles and use them on Business or Premium Economy when we have enough of them and also use them on long-haul flights. You are right about London, as I am ready to go back!

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  18. Jackie it is good to know that all the danger is behind you and you can look back and enjoy this London trip with a more relaxed eye.

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    1. It was interesting being in this fabulous city, in a great hotel and having a super time, but still having that little cloud over you wondering what the tests would show, how life might change, and if that stay might be the last trip. . .sounds rather melodramatic looking back on it, but those thoughts do cross your mind.

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  19. I love London. It is a good place to save hotel points for - accommodations are expensive here. In our most recent visit we actually stayed outside of London in a town close to where friends were, but it was an easy train ride into the city. A few years ago I joined my sister for a few days in London. She'd already booked a single room with points. I was lucky because when I decided to join her, she was able to upgrade to a double room. The extra fee was substantially cheaper for me than if I'd had to find my own room.

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  20. I never get tired of London, and visit whenever I have an excuse, though that hasn't been for a while. I'm rooting for my daughter, who'll get her master's next year, to settle in London, so I can visit all I want, guilt-free!

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  21. London is indeed an expensive city, but it is SO worth it! One of my favourites indeed. Thx for the great post.

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  22. Hi Jackie. The last time I was in London I was about 20 years old, and broke. I had just finished touring Europe with two friends, but the broke part didn't matter. We still had a good time. The only think I miss about corporate Canada are the air miles and hotel rewards that I used to rack up. Oh well! Actually, the last 3 or 4 times I've traveled I have managed to fly business class on points or points and cash. Your room at the Marriott looks lovely. Looking forward to your London adventures next week. Thanks for linking up! #TPThursday

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So happy to see you took the time to comment. We read them all - and each is much appreciated. We hope you will be a regular here and comment often!

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